Contract awarded for Bulgarian district heating upgrade

Europe’s second-largest district heating system is set for modernization, with the first phase of a comprehensive upgrade plan commencing soon.

Utility Toplofikacia Sofia, which operates the 4300 MW system in Sofia, Bulgaria, has inked a deal with Slovenian fuel firm Petrol for the first stage of work.

The scope of work and contract amount were not specified, although Petrol’s website notes that it is ‘growing from the Slovenian oil trader to a comprehensive regional provider of energy and environmentally-friendly services’.

The upgrade work is part-funded by the Kozloduy International Decommissioning Support Fund (KIDSF), administered by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and aims to replace pipelines, refurbish boilers, install flue gas utilization systems and build a new cogeneration plant.

Included in the planned work is replacement of around 63 km of old pipelines with pre-insulated pipes by 2018, the EBRD said, while a new 10 MWth, €9 million ($9.6 million) cogeneration plant featuring heat-only boilers will be built.

The €11.7 million modernization of two boiler units is planned to include reconstruction of boiler heating surfaces, replacement of old burners with new low emission burners, control system upgrades and installation of flue gas utilization equipment.

In addition, the existing condensing turbine is intended to be replaced with a new backpressure steam turbine with capacity of 30-35 MWe/89 MWth, at a cost of €9.1 million.

According to district energy trade group Euroheat & Power, Sofia’s district heating network has seen an annual growth rate of 1% to 3% due to new connections to the heat transmission grid, such as new-build residential apartments. 

Image credit: podoboq from Sofia, Bulgaria - CC BY 2.0

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